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Why did Yeshua TOUCH the leper?




I have read Mark 1 many times, but something jumped out at me the other day.


And a man with leprosy came to Jesus, imploring Him and kneeling down, and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out with His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. (Mark 1:40-42)

He could have healed him without touching him. Most of us would not want to touch someone with a flesh-eating-contagious disease. “Leprosy was a terrifying disease because of the social rejection and the devastating impact it had on its victims. And it was incurable.”[1] So why did Yeshua touch him?


Compassion

It says He was “moved with compassion.”


The man came begging him in desperation, “falling on his knees, saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’” (Mark 1:40). Surely, it must have shocked onlookers. Technically it would have made Yeshua unclean, as “the law said that contact with any unclean person made that person unclean too, some people even threw rocks at lepers to keep them at a safe distance.”[2]


This is powerful and complex because Yeshua lived according to Torah. I believe that Yeshua could touch him and not become unclean because Yeshua is pure and pure power. The second Yeshua touched him, his purity cleansed the leper. It was gone the millisecond He made contact. I have read many other theories, but this one makes the most sense to me.


Remember the story of the woman bleeding for 12 years, when she touched him, also being unclean, not only did Yeshua not become unclean, but power went out from him… there’s nothing unclean that could affect him. Now, if indeed he was violating the law, it is to “boldly placed love and compassion over ritual and regulation. Instead of being defiled by the leprosy, Jesus brings purification to the man.”[3] Love of God and his neighbor (the two most important commandments[4]) demanded that He show compassion this way.


Yeshua wanted to communicate something to this man into everyone watching regarding the unquenchable love of God. By touching a leper and healing him, He was communicating gods deep love for humanity in all of our uncleanness. “Mark revealed Jesus’ heart of compassion. While all people shunned lepers, Jesus reached out his hand and touched this man covered with a dreaded, contagious disease.”[5] Becoming unclean in the old covenant was not a life sentence, but temporary. Jesus teaches that the things that truly make us unclean are “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart…For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt. 15:18-20).


You are the leper!

Okay, now imagine you are the leper! You need healing. You recognize that Yeshua is the only one who can make you whole. The onlookers are everyone who has hurt you, doubted you, shamed you, or mocked you. That becomes your "uncleanness"—labels that others, whether parents or childhood friends, put on you. And Yeshua looks at you in your "uncleanness" and embraces you, as He is filled with compassion for you.


Like the woman caught in adultery, He does not condemn you. He loves you and heals you, by taking your leprosy—the things that people say you are—and adopts you into His family.


He did not blame the leper for having leprosy. Instead, He had compassion on him. Neither does He blame you, but welcomes you as you come to Him broken. The Son of God has just as much compassion for you as He did for that man. You just need to receive it.


The problem is, some of you cannot imagine Jesus smiling at you, loving you. You are too beat up. You have allowed the enemy to paint a picture of a god who is constantly angry at you because of your shortcomings.


I don’t think there was anything more disgusting and terrifying in the eyes of your average person than a leper. If Yeshua could be so moved with compassion that he had to touch an untouchable, how much more does He love you?



[1] Bruce B. Barton, Mark, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994), 40. [2] Barton, 41. [3] Walter W. Wessel and Mark L. Strauss, “Mark,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 721. [4] Matthew 22:36-40. [5] Barton, 41.

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